Director: David Yates
Release Date: November 18 2016
Harry Potter fans rejoice! The spinoff film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them premieres November 18th to bring us back to the wizarding world.
*cue Hedwig’s theme*
The film takes its inspiration from a textbook of the same name, which was mentioned several times throughout the original Harry Potter novels. In 2001, J.K Rowling released a copy of this textbook using the pseudonym name Newt Scamander. The book detailed all sorts of magical creatures and their origins, and included a note from Albus Dumbledore himself. 80% of the proceeds from these book sales went to a British charity known as the Comic Relief.
Unlike the original films, our favourite boy wizard is not the star of the show. The film follows the wizard known as Newt Scamander (played by Eddie Redmayne) as he arrives in New York after traveling the world documenting magical creatures. Scamander manages to lose his briefcase, which is enchanted to contain dozens of magical (and dangerous) creatures, and the case quickly ends up in the hands of a No-Maj (non-magical person).
The film promises to explore the politics of the magical world in North America. While Britain’s Ministry of Magic appeared to be a quirky and slightly disorganized government, the movie trailer implies that MACUSA (the Magical Congress of the United States of America) is notoriously less-forgiving when it comes to revealing the existence of magic. The stern-looking witch, Seraphina Picquery (played by Carmen Ejogo), is the president of MACUSA, and she promises to be an aggressive force behind Scamander’s adventures—just look at that hair. You DO NOT want to mess with this woman.
1920s America is a fractured world for magical folk due to a corrupt and murderous group known as the Scourers, who hunted fellow wizards in the seventeenth century and still persist in modern America. As a result of these wizards, the magical congress requires that every magical member carries a wand permit in order to monitor magical activity — which makes a group of unregistered magical beasts running around New York an absolute nightmare.
Two weeks before the film’s release date, Director David Yates finally announced the role of Johnny Depp. Depp will play Gellert Grindelwald, the soon-to-be menace of the entire wizarding world (until the late 70s and the eventual reign of Lord Voldemort). If you’ve seen Depp in Sweeney Todd (2007), you know he’s a force to be reckoned with when it comes to playing dark and dangerous characters. For fans of the original movies, a young Dumbledore will be making several appearances, likely in direct opposition to the dark Grindelwald.
Fantastic Beasts boasts quite a few other familiar names, such as Colin Farrell (True Detective, Total Recall), Ezra Miller (The Perks of Being a Wallflower), and Zoë Kravitz (X-Men: First Class, Mad Max: Fury Road).
While the dragons, giant spiders, phoenixes, and basilisks of the first 8 films had wizards and muggles alike in awe, Fantastic Beasts promises this and more. Here’s a handful of magical creatures guaranteed to make an appearance:
1. Nifflers: these adorable long-snouted creatures are tiny kleptomaniacs who love gold.
2. Swooping Evil: a colourful, mysterious creature that has yet to appear in any of the previous books or films.
3. Bowtruckles: these stick-like tree-defenders live in trees most suitable for making wands with.
4. Thunderbird: personally, this is the creature I’m most excited to see onscreen. The thunderbird is an enormous bird whose wing flaps create thunderstorms.
I know I’ll be watching the film trailer on repeat for the next few days, who’s with me?
Bonus marks to procrastinators who test their knowledge of magical beasts here.